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A three-week summer institute for high school students will offer free Russian language instruction and sessions about Russian culture, June 9-28, at East Central University.

Startalk 2013 In Search of the Firebird: Connecting Generations through Tradition is designed to improve language skills of students who will be in grades 9-12 this fall by immersing them into the Russian language and culture.

Both beginning students and those with an advanced level of understanding the Russian language are invited to apply. Space is limited and applications are currently being accepted and reviewed. There will be a selection process based on their application that includes a 300-word essay.

“We will explore the past and concentrate on the present,” said Dr. Mara Sukholutskaya, professor of English and languages and director of global education at ECU.

Sukholutskaya is also the project director and lead instructor. She will be joined by Dr. Valentina Iepuri, of the University of Mississippi in Oxford, and Ms. Lyudmila Kolomeychuk, of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine.

They will provide an intensive focus on teaching the Russian language during morning classes. Afternoon sessions will center on various aspects of Russian culture. Two instructor-led trips will include the Consulate General of the Russian Federation, Russian Newspaper Headquarters and a science museum that has two original Faberge eggs in Houston and sites Russian Culture related sites in Tulsa.

Participants will stay in ECU residence halls. Evening activities will enhance classroom learning and will be monitored and supervised by resident counselors who are ECU students minoring in Russian.

The instruction, room and board and all program-related activities are provided at no charge to the program participants.

The institute will include several follow-up opportunities for the participants through January 2013 to continue the reinforcement of the intensive summer institute.

Students can register online at or by calling the Center of Continuing Education & Community Services at 580-559-5456. Information about the course is available from Dr. Mara Sukholutskaya at 580-559-5293.

Qualified applications, on a first-come, first-serve basis, are now being accepted through May 1, 2013. Prospective candidates for the program may go to the following link, , fill out the application form and email it to Dr. Mara Sukholutskaya at . After May 1, the forms can be faxed to the ECU Center of Continuing Education & Community Services at 580-310-9007.  More information about the camp is also available by contacting Sukholutskaya at 580-559-5293 or by calling the Continuing Education and Community Services Office at 580-559-5456.

Students accepted for the institute who will be seniors and have taken the ACT exam also may qualify to enroll in the 2000-level course “Introduction to the Russian Language and Culture” and receive three hours of college credit by the end of the program in June.

A grant from Startalk, one of the programs of the National Security Language Initiative announced by former President George W. Bush in January 2006, allows ECU to provide instruction, materials, recreation, food and housing at no cost to the student.

Startalk’s mission is to increase the number of Americans learning, speaking and teaching strategically important world languages that are not now widely taught in the United States through summer courses such as ECU’s. Russian is one of those critical languages, according to Sukholutskaya.

ECU also hopes to bring alumni of the National Security Language Initiative for Youth program to ECU talk with Startalk students about their experiences living and learning abroad and how they can apply for the program. The NSLI-Y provides full, merit-based scholarships for eligible high school students to learn less commonly taught languages in summer and academic-year overseas immersion programs. The programs include the Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Persian, Russian and Turkish languages.

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